Shelf Markers - Yay! Or Nay?

Updated: Jun 25, 2020

Dear Dr. Laura

I’m so new I cannot even figure out what shelf markers are all about. Do I need to use them? How do they really help (or not)? If I don’t use them, is there something I should use instead?


Forever Marked Librarian

Hi, Forever Marked Librarian!

In my opinion, shelf markers used to be common practice, but are not used by everyone anymore. I don’t really know if there is a “history of shelf makers” website, but I can speak from personal experience and what I've seen other librarians do. By the way, some people call them “shelf sticks”. I will use “shelf marker” in this post.

The initial idea is that when used properly, shelf markers can help keep the library shelves organized. Shelf markers are typically used to mark where a book needs to be replaced while browsing. When a student finds a book they want to look at, the student would slip a shelf marker into the exact spot where they found the book. Shelf markers are usually very thin so they can easily slip between books. They also tend to be long to extend past the shelf for easy visibility when it’s time to return the book to its location.

Shelf Markers are long plastic strips.

What do librarians use for shelf markers?

  • Buy official shelf markers from one of your vendors

  • Paint stir sticks (just know they are thick and can splinter)

  • Laminate manila folders and cut into strips